“After your rescue, he’s either dead or similarly spelled,” Vlad had responded brutally. “Either way, the answer is no.”
He had valid points, and I didn’t want to die any more than Vlad wanted me to commit spell-induced suicide. But the idea that Szilagyi was only a psychic link away was as enticing as it was infuriatingly out of reach. After everything he’d done, I wanted that man dead. Truly, permanently dead, but that couldn’t happen until we found him, and after my recent rescue, he would have probably gone to ground again. He’d managed to hide himself for hundreds of years before. What if he did it again?
After what felt like hours, Vlad unloaded the tub and let me out. I arched my back to relieve a kink that had been bothering me since the piano had landed on me, then began to dust myself off before I stopped. What was the point? The dress was covered in so much blood; a little dust hardly mattered.
“This is ruined,” I said before the ridiculousness of my comment struck me. One trashed dress was quite literally the least of our concerns.
Vlad said nothing. Just watched me with expectant wariness, as if he was ready to pounce on my slightest move.
“I’ll return in a few hours,” I heard Mencheres call out, then a door closing signified his exit.
“He’s going back to gamble with the others?” I asked, more to break the tenseness than because I cared what he was doing.
“No,” Vlad said, his unruffled tone not fooling me. “I told you Mencheres was well versed in magic. He should be able to break Szilagyi’s spell, once he has the right supplies.”
I was stunned. If Mencheres could get this hara-kiri mojo off me, why did he waste time helping Vlad move furniture?
“He can find what he needs in Vegas?” I love you, Vegas! I wanted to crow.
“The dark arts are very alive and well here. How else do you explain Cirque De Solei’s best tricks?”
Since I hadn’t been to one of their shows, I’d never had cause to wonder. “I don’t even care. I’m just so relieved Mencheres can break this spell, I can’t even tell you.”
Vlad’s smile had a definite edge to it. “No need to.”
Of course not. If there was one person who could understand my relief over this news, it was him.
“While Mencheres is out magic-shopping, I’m going to wash this blood off,” I said, giving him a lopsided smile. “Can’t hurt myself with a little soap and water, right?”
The single word stopped me before my hand reached the shower door. Good thing, too, because with a blast of heat, the glass began to melt like ice under a blowtorch. I jumped back to avoid the scalding puddle that hit the ground near my feet.
“Why?” I managed.
Vlad didn’t spare a glance at the gelatinous blob that, moments ago, had been lovely, frosted glass doors.
“You could have broken them and used one of the shards as a weapon. Now you can’t, but best wait until it cools before you step inside the shower. Otherwise, you’ll burn your feet.”
He could have stayed and watched to make sure I didn’t try anything with the glass doors. Instead, he’d melted them into a puddle that fused with the marble floor. If that didn’t make me realize that tonight’s awful events had pushed him past his limits, nothing would.
“Okay,” I said a little shakily. “Guess the mirror’s next?”
He bared his teeth in more of a threat than a smile. “You guessed correctly.”
His emotions were contained, but his coppery green eyes shone with a wildness I’d only seen when he was in battle. From the way his aura kept coiling like dozens of snakes readying to strike, he was barely able to stop himself from further drastic action. If I’d been through a lot over the past couple weeks, so had he, and this had clearly been his last straw.
I walked over to him, careful not to step in one of the rivulets that snaked out from the main glass puddle. Then I put my arms around him and leaned my head against his chest. His body felt far hotter than normal, as if he was holding back the fire in him with great effort. Maybe it had done him some good to burn that glass into liquid. A mini-release, of sorts.
Well, I knew another, more effective means of release.
“I didn’t like those doors, anyway,” I breathed against his chest. “This new, open look is much nicer, if you ask me.”
His short exhalation wasn’t a real laugh, but it was the closest I’d heard since he’d stormed Szilagyi’s underground train-station lair to rescue me. Then his arms encircled me, and I closed my eyes in bliss at the feel of them.
“The glass won’t burn you,” I whispered, kissing his chest through his shirt. “And you need a shower, too.”
A harsher sound escaped him before he picked me up, leaving footprints in the slowly hardening puddle as he carried me to the shower. Once inside, he turned on the water, sending up clouds of steam where it bounced off us and hit the molten mass on the floor. I tipped my head back, letting it fall beneath the spray to wash the blood from my face and neck. Fingers warmer than the water unbuttoned my dress, then a scalding mouth traced a path from my throat to the front of my bra. That gave way with a slice of fangs, baring my breasts while my dress slid down in a sodden heap around my hips.
I moaned when his mouth closed over my breast, searing it before a graze of teeth had me clutching him closer. He didn’t bite me, although I wanted him to. Instead, he lightly scored the tip with his fangs before laving and sucking my nipple until it throbbed with the same intensity as if he had bitten it. I tried to pull his head up to kiss him, but his arms clamped around my back, holding me in place. When he moved to my other breast, giving it the same deliberate, passionate attention, I stopped resisting and gave in to the sensations.